High patient volume, unrelated to COVID, prompts measures at Oneida Health

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ONEIDA — Monday was a very busy day at the Emergency Department at Oneida Health.

So busy, that the bustling medical center had to inform local Emergency Medical Services and the Madison County Department of Health on Monday that its emergency room would be going on diversion — with ambulances needing to transport potential ER patients to other area facilities.

In an effort to meet its staffing needs, Oneida Health also canceled some elective procedures in its Ambulatory Surgery Center, Operating Room, and Endoscopy Center on Tuesday as well as Wednesday

Diversion, Oneida Health officials said, is a temporary countermeasure that hospitals can activate to minimize the number of high acuity patients that may arrive by ambulance while they are experiencing an unusually high number of patients. The hospital’s emergency room was still able to provide care to walk-in patients during the ambulance diversion.

Oneida Health Director of Marketing and Public Relations Kevin Prosser said Oneida Health said the announcement was made a necessity by a confluence of a high number of ER visits that day and an already high hospital inpatient census. The cases, Prosser said, was not COVID-19 related. Oneida Health, he said, currently has zero COVID-19 inpatients.

“Due to the timing of a high hospital inpatient census and a large number of emergency room patients requiring inpatient care (on Monday), our management team and medical staff identified the need to go on temporary diversion,” said Gene Morreale, president and CEO at Oneida Health.

“Our medical staff has identified elective procedures that could be delayed to a future date in order to increase the number of staffing resources available to other units during this brief time,” said Morreale. “Though this may inconvenience some, the safety of our patients remains our top priority while not overwhelming our talented staff.” 

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